“We met with Abdullah Öcalan on the island prison of İmralı on May the 2ndlast”. This is what his lawyers announced yesterday. Today, they provided more substantial information.
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Rezan Sarıca, one of the two lawyers authorized among the four who had submitted the request, announced during a press conference today May 6th 2019, that the meeting had lasted approximately an hour and, although the authorities had not allowed jailed leader Öcalan to sign officially a text or a declaration in due form, the lawyers could transmit a message.
This meeting, following another that received little media attention in January with his brother, is the first break in the isolation to which Öcalan has been subjected for 8 years, with brief episodes of unverifiable “news” or a short visit announced in 2016. Öcalan is a “State political prisoner” and the current regime acts the same way as the preceding one that had him incarcerated following the unilateral break in the “peace process negotiations” in which he was the privileged interlocutor following the now-distant ceasefire of 1998.
Close to 3 000 political prisoners are pursuing a hunger strike in solidarity with Leyla Güven, a deputy still on strike, who had launched this movement on November 8 2018 for “the end to Öcalan’s isolation and a search for peace.” A voluntary fast which then spread throughout the Kurdish diaspora, leading to suicides. The news of this meeting, a very partial and temporary break in the secrecy surrounding Öcalan, thus carries a strong political connotation.
Four lawyers had requested the visit, only two were authorized to proceed: Newroz Uysal and Rezan Sanca, who then made a declaration to the media today (May 6th) at 3 PM in the Taksim Hill Hotel.
The lawyers insisted on the fact they were not presenting a negotiating document or an agreement, but only a simple communiqué.
Here is a quick translation of their presentation:
“A deep social reconciliation is necessary in the context of this historical process.
In order to resolve problems, there is need for a democratic negotiation method, far from any polarization and removed from a culture of confrontation. We can resolve the problems of Turkey, and even of the region, starting with that of war, though intellectual, political and cultural strength, and not through the instruments of violence.
Along with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SFD), we must solve the problems in Syria by abstaining from any culture of conflict and in a perspective of local democracy which must be guaranteed by the Constituion, in the framework of a united Syria. We must also be aware of Turkey’s concerns in this regard.
While respecting the resistance of comrades in jail and without, we wish to say that their resistance must not run over into attitudes placing their health at risk and that will end in death. For us, their mental, physical and spiritual health rises above every other consideration. Moreover, we are convinced that the most sensible approach is linked to the development of a mental and spriritual attitude.
Our position in İmralı involves deepening and clarifying the means of expression which we defined in the Newroz 2013 declaration, and continuing on that same path.
For us, a dignified peace and a solution based on a democratic policy are fundamental.
With respect, we pay homage to those who worried about our situation in İmralı and who took position on this, and we consider that we owe them a debt of gratitude.
Obviously, even though Abdullah Öcalan does not call explicitely for the end to the “hunger strikes”, he reiterates Leyla Güven’s message on the safeguarding of life. Moreover, he reiterates his stance as the historical interlocutor for a relaunching of the peace process: an extended hand, always refused by the regime, of course.
His position on Syria would encourage the pursuit of current meetings with the regime, and in this process, the necessary recognition of the democratic entity in the constitution. Here again, the Syrian regime’s ambition are known, always offering the negotiators the same method as the one applied to the Jihadists, a method openly rejected these days by a Kurdish Syrian leader.
This message from Abdullah Öcalan raises two questions for the movement and for the Kurdish people in Turkey and in the region. If followed by silence on the part of the Turkish regime, as well as the Syrian, it will finally represent a false break in the isolation, mainly useful for a political reflection on the pursuance of the hunger strikes begun in November.
Finally, the second question concerns the choice at the highest levels of the pretence of a response to a demand to end the isolation, while changing nothing in the basic situation